Homes with some sort of kitchen garden (or the potential to have one) are now key selling points for country house buyers in West Sussex.

As a vegetable grower myself, I have so many fond memories of when my two sons were growing up. We had an impressive patch at the back of the garden where we grew all sorts – potatoes, beans, courgettes, radishes, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes and various types of lettuces to name a few. We also had apple and plum fruit trees and a herb garden. For them it was an adventure, from watching the vegetables grow over time to digging them all up. I don’t think the potatoes lasted more than ten minutes before they were washed, cooked and eaten!

I still enjoy growing my own herbs today. As I write this, I have just poured myself a cup of refreshing mint tea in the summer sun using the mint from my herb garden. I also love to cook with my own ingredients such as parley and rosemary. Not only do I find it therapeutic, but I think there’s something incredibly rewarding about enjoying homegrown food as it takes time and a lot of patience. Knowing exactly where your food comes from also adds to the appeal.

It would appear I am not the only one who adores this farm to table experience. When the nation was hit by the various Covid-19 lockdowns, people of all ages made the most of their gardens by unleashing their green-fingered thumbs and growing their own fruit and veg. This new trend of creating fresh seasonal produce at home made its way into the world of property too, giving sellers of country houses a competitive edge. When showing my clients around such homes over the last couple of years, I have seen more buyers comment on vegetable beds, orchards, kitchen gardens and green houses, than ever before. I have even been asked about soil types! Interestingly many of these are families who want to do exactly what I did with my children. It’s a fun way for young one’s to learn about the joys of home grown food, whilst gaining a greater connection with where their food comes from.

Village and market towns with allotments are very popular now too – so much so that there are often waiting lists to get your own plot. Lodsworth, Graffham, East Dean, Lavant, Chichester and Petworth are just some examples of areas offering local residents the chance to grow their own seasonal produce. Allotments also bring a fantastic community spirit, where neighbours can make friends and socialise together.

Growing your own fruit and veg is not just about enjoying home-made food, however. There are many physical and mental health benefits too. Combine these with the fact that food costs and energy bills have soared, I believe this is a trend that is set to continue for a while yet.

If you are looking for a country house with plenty of space to grow your own fresh ingredients, perhaps I can help. You can contact me on 07776452128 or e-mail jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk. 

Being a cash buyer when purchasing a country house is more important than ever before. Our director, Jennie Hancock, spoke with Times journalist, Carol Lewis, as she writes about why it has become the minimum entry requirement for buyers now, and how at the top end of the market, purchasers are retaining buying agents to help them stand out from the crowd. Read the full article here.

When searching for a country house over the years, you may have noticed that some property listings have POA (price on application) rather than the price next to it. The term exists as a way to conceal the asking price from the general public, however the National Trading Standards have outlawed it from the end of May, forcing estate agents to disclose the price on portals.

There are a variety of reasons why estate agents offer POA, and in my experience it’s usually driven by the vendor wanting to disguise the asking price. This could be for personal reasons such as death, debt or divorce, to attract serious buyers only as POA properties tend to usually be at the higher levels, they are a celebrity, or they just don’t want their neighbours knowing how much their home is worth.

However, many buyers find it misleading when they do not know what the price of a house is – forcing them to make contact with the associated estate agent to find out more details which they can find tedious and off putting.

It’s a strategy that has been in place for some time now, and over the last year alone, a large majority of homes I find and purchase for clients are POA. The advantage of me being the buying agent of course is that I can find out the price pretty quickly for my buyers, providing clarity from the start of their house hunting journey. For those searching on their own, they haven’t had this luxury…

So for buyers, the removal of POA is really quite triumphant, as it will provide far more transparency and clarity from the offset.

I also believe more homes will be sold off market as a result, because it’s a way of keeping the price out of the public eye if vendors want/need it to be. This is beneficial for prime country house buyers as they still get to know the asking price from the offset, but they also have a much better chance of actually finding something to buy. With demand as high as it is still, many are struggling to find anything to purchase on the open market due to the lack of homes for sale which has led to intense competition for them. There has been a bit of a market frenzy for prime homes in West Sussex over the last couple of years, rife with sealed bids, bidding wars and properties selling up to 20% over the asking price. Whereas when purchasing a property off market, the competition is much less because the general public won’t know it’s for sale.

Almost all of my acquisitions for clients are off market now, and often it is just my buyer looking at the house and nobody else. This is a privilege that’s worth its weight in gold for many house hunters.

For more information about the finding a country house off market in West Sussex, contact Jennie Hancock on +44 (0)7776452128 or Michelle Hendrie on +44 (0)7515345821.

You will have no doubt read about how much prices have grown over the last couple of years across the nation, as post pandemic buyers rushed to buy their dream home in the country. With house hunters who raced to outbid each other now being caught out as the market starts to cool,  our Director, Jennie Hancock, chatted to the Daily Telegraph about the advice she gives to clients when it comes to making an offer.

Read the full article here.

Our Director, Jennie Hancock, has been quoted in The Spectator about buying a Georgian home. At Property Acquisitions we are receiving an overwhelming demand for this style of house. The elegance of design seems to take priority over energy efficiency, with the era even more popular than Tudor houses as they are usually larger and offer more light. Often spread across three or four floors, Georgian houses give more options for accommodation too, allowing for a floor for the kids or a nanny, for example. Buyers also love the high ceilings, cornicing and shutters.

Read the full article here.

With the fourth booster well and truly underway, downsizers are starting to feel more confident about letting buyers into their homes. As they begin their house moving journeys once again following two years of covid-hibernation, this has meant we are receiving more enquiries from those searching for a smaller country house. There are many benefits for doing so…. for example less maintenance, releasing equity, improved accessibility, lower energy bills and in today’s market, you could make a nice profit on the selling price, to name a few. With that in mind, our Director, Jennie Hancock, shares some of her top tips…

 

Start your search early

When you decide to sell it’s a good idea to start your property search at the same time. This is simply because there are far more buyers than there are homes for sale, so whilst you may find your current house gets snapped up once on the market, it doesn’t mean you will find something else just as fast. The good country houses for sale are often sold off-market, so speak with local estate agents about what is coming up, or use a buying agent as they tend to have access to them before the general public does. Plus there’s far less buyer competition for you as well!

 

Downsize belongings

Downsizing will mean you will probably have to sell, donate or throw away quite a few things. When looking for your next home, have a good look at the floor plan. Will it fit your belongings without feeling too cluttered, or will you need to reduce them some more?

 

Consider long-term flexibility

Long-term flexibility is definitely something to explore. Although this may not be a requirement yet, there may come a time where it would be very convenient to have the master bedroom downstairs so that you’re close to the kitchen, living room and garden. An annexe outside is another option to consider. These can provide great accommodation for live-in carers in later years should one be required.

 

Find a manageable garden

A smaller garden will mean less upkeep. If you plan on hiring a gardener then size doesn’t really matter, but if you are going to be responsible for looking after outside space then you want something that is low-maintenance. I would usually recommend to my downsizer clients not to purchase something with more than half-to-one acre.

 

Local communities are key

One of the most common questions I’m asked by downsizers is ‘does this area have a good local community?’ These are the beating heart of many locations in West Sussex, and are great ways for getting to know the locals and becoming a core part of the community. Village halls often have regular backgammon nights, film evenings or yoga classes for example. Some of the villages even have croquet lawns or tennis clubs which are very popular with those enjoying their golden years. Close knit communities also come together and provide huge support.

 

Don’t be too remote

Although it can be a luxury not to have a neighbour directly next door, you don’t want them so far away that there isn’t anybody around to help you if you’re in a pickle. If you’re living on your own, knowing residents are around you will help you feel more secure too.

Mobility may also be an issue in the future so having easy access to public transport will be very useful. In towns and cities there’s usually quite a good set up, but if you’re seeking a village ask how far away the location is from shops, cafes and so on. Some even provide residents with a community bus which takes them to their local supermarket or town centre.

Just in case you need regular medical help or emergency care at some point, it’s also worth thinking about distance to hospitals.

 

Do you want a ‘lock up and leave’?

Many over 50’s want to travel more, so choose a home that allows you the freedom to do just that. Whether a weekend break or a global adventure, smaller houses mean you don’t need to worry about what might happen to the property or garden whilst you’re away. You want to literally be able to pack your luggage, close the front door and relax.

 

How many bedrooms do you need?

This really depends on your circumstances but if you have lots of grandchildren who like to stay with you, then you need to make sure you have enough bedrooms for them and their parents. The same applies if you like to entertain friends too. Generally, my downsizer clients are looking for three bedrooms and two bathrooms when looking for a smaller house.

 

For more information about the benefits of purchasing a smaller country house in West Sussex, contact Jennie Hancock on +44 (0)7776452128.

Our Director Jennie Hancock is quoted in Country Life magazine’s buying agent special this week, where she provides her thoughts on what is happening in the West Sussex property market currently. Here is a list of all of the tips Jennie provided, some of which made the article.

 

1. What do you think will happen in 2022 from a property perspective?

There has been a shortage of good quality homes for sale throughout the pandemic, but as spring begins, we should start to see more appear throughout the warmer months like we traditionally do. People don’t like to sell their lovely country houses between November and February generally. They want their gardens to be in full glory and so they have been waiting for the tulips, daffodils, greenery, blue skies and sunshine to appear. Beautiful gardens can really make a substantial difference to the price level. Homeowners are already discussing plans with estate agents and solicitors, and I’m hearing about far more properties from estate agents than I did over the winter period, so preparation plans are definitely underway. I have also had quite a few local homeowners ask me if I have cash purchasers I can introduce to them, who are prepared to purchase ‘off market’. This is because such sellers don’t want to have a massive footfall walking through their homes. They also know that buying agents have proceedable buyers who are able to pay premiums for houses in order to secure unique opportunities.

The intense levels of demand we have seen over the last couple of years should continue throughout the spring and summer as the nice country houses become available. However some may be worrying about how energy price rises and the bank rate increases may impact them. We might therefore see some buyers reduce their budgets or become more cautious about overspending.

 

2. What are your top tips for buyers?

Buyers need to be first in the door if they are to have a good chance of securing their dream country house, which is where the value of a buying agent comes in. We are aware of everything that’s coming up for sale on the open market and off market, long before the general public knows. Buying agents also have all the right contacts to be the only person that knows about a property for sale as well, reducing the competition tremendously.

Find out why a vendor is selling. This is absolutely essential when determining the sort of offer you should make. A buying agent will have done all of the research themselves to find out this information.

Have a good look at land registry information because you can check a lot of detail that is not on the agent’s specification.

 

3. What are the pitfalls to watch out for?

It’s very easy to over pay for a house you’ve fallen in love with, so be careful not to get caught up in any bidding wars. Think sensibly and be prepared to walk away if you have to. There will be another property somewhere else.  

If you’re not a proceedable buyer, you won’t get the house. You need to be ready to go, especially if you plan on retaining a buying agent. This is why many estate agents like to contact us first because they know that we vet all of our clients before hand to ensure we bring to the table serious buyers only. This can mean having sold a property already or having the funds available to purchase either with cash or with cash/ a mortgage. 

Choose your location wisely. Pig farms as neighbours and the noise from a main road on your doorstep you will soon regret!

 

If Property Acquisitions can help with your property search in West Sussex, contact Jennie Hancock on jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk or Michelle Hendrie on mh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk. 

This week, our news about local property expert, Michelle Hendrie, joining our team has made the trade press headlines, to include PrimeResi and The Negotiator. Read more about how she is already helping buyers search for their dream home in and around Midhurst, Petworth and Chichester here.

I am delighted to announce that former estate agent, Michelle Hendrie, has joined my buying agency, Property Acquisitions, to help meet phenomenal demand from local country house buyers seeking village homes in and around the Midhurst, Petworth and Chichester area.

Living in East Dean, Michelle joins from Jackson-Stops Midhurst, where she has spent the last fifteen years selling prime country houses in and around the South Downs National Park. Combined with a passion for matching buyers to specific properties, Michelle brings a lot of off-market knowledge and expertise to Property Acquisitions and the residents of The Valley – especially at a time when many locals are struggling to find their next home nearby due to immense competition from other purchasers.

Aware of where the off-market houses are for sale long before the general public find out, Michelle is already very busy working with buyers keen to stamp their ground in West Sussex’ golden villages, with her clientele ranging from downsizers and upsizers to families and weekenders. In her spare time, Michelle can be found enjoying local walks, dining at the Star & Garter or The Partridge, gardening, enjoying plays at Chichester Festival Theatre and going to Goodwood horseracing.

It is a very exciting time for Michelle to be joining the business, and already she has proved invaluable in helping me cater to demand. I have always admired her passion and professional expertise for many years, and I am confident she will be a huge success at Property Acquisitions.

Michelle said: “Buyer demand continues to outweigh properties for sale tremendously across West Sussex, and purchasers have quickly realised that buying agents are the key to finding the good country houses that nobody else knows about, removing the competition for them hugely. I couldn’t be joining Jennie at a more exciting time and look forward to working with local homeowners in their quest for their next country home.”

0